Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

You Have No Excuse

you have no excuse

Photo credit: Meredith Farmer

Ever wanted to write a book? Record an album? Make your own movie? You now have no excuse.

There is no “I can’t” anymore. No waiting for the right time. No asking permission. You’re in charge. No one’s one holding you back but you.

No more stalling. It’s time. The tools are on your side.

Now, you can publish a book without having to knock on doors. You can start a podcast or launch a blog.

You can spread a message worth hearing to thousands of people for free. You can record an album on your laptop and raise money for it through crowd-funding, all in the comfort of your own home.

This is the age of no excuse.

I am the only one to blame

The other day, I had a disturbing phone call, followed by a challenging meeting. I walked away from both, having heard something I didn’t want to hear, that my dreams were closer than I realized.

If I wanted to publish a book, I had people who would help me. If I wanted to share my writing with the world, I could. This left me feeling unsettled. Fear began to well up inside of me. Excuses filled my mind:

I’m not ready yet. I need a larger platform. If only I had more time.

The truth is I didn’t have much content for a book. I hadn’t been writing. I wasn’t planning for this moment. I had only been dreaming.

I realized an important truth, one that sobered my thoughts: The only thing holding me back is me. Now, I have to do something. And I hate it. Because if this doesn’t get done, I have no one to blame but me.

The fear you are beginning to feel

By now, you are starting to think of your own dream. Immediately, apprehensions and roadblocks come to mind. You start thinking of excuses, which turn into justifications for why you haven’t begun.

Then, you start consoling yourself. It’s okay. You don’t need to try. There will be other opportunities. And you are completely full of crap.

Enough. Please. Stop passing the buck, and take responsibility. Admit that you have no excuse. Embrace this, and start moving forward. It could be the thing that saves you.

You may be years away from your dream. That’s okay. But don’t you dare spend another minute lying to yourself and others about what’s holding you back:

  • You are what stands in the way of your dream.
  • You have no excuse to not begin today.
  • You are afraid.

And that’s fine. But it’s time to grow up. It’s time to get over it, whatever “it” is, and do something that matters. I hope this frustrates you enough to do something. I hope it puts a fire under your butt.

Because we don’t need more dreaming; we need more action. We need your life to count for something, for you to create the art you were destined to make. And we need it now.

What’s your excuse? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • Michael

    We are of the same mind today. And we actually wrote about the same thing, but you definitely articulated it much better. My excuse for my book lately has been that I don’t have time. But last night I sat and watched television for two hours after everyone went to bed.

    • Jeff Goins

      Yeah, I hear you. My excuse is that I’m waiting to be asked.

      • Erin

        Waiting to be asked…that’s usually my excuse too. I want people to support me before I’ve given them anything to support. I want them to support my music career, but I don’t have one.

        I finally did record an album that released in October. And then I started waiting for someone to ask me to come play (again, I was waiting for people who don’t know me to ask me to live my dream). After 4 months of waiting for not much, I finally contacted a coffee shop and played my first official post-release show last week. And after I started taking steps, I got a call to sing at a college women’s conference.

        It’s an exciting month, but I know the temptation will always be to wait for someone to ask me. I will consistently have to force myself to ask them for the opportunities I want. They won’t be handed to me.

        But, the prayer is along the way, people connect with the songs, that they tell their friend or spouse or parent or whoever, and that whether it’s 50 or 50000, people will be affected by what comes out of me.

        • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

          This is typical with artists, I think. Why are we so insecure?

          • http://www.dearheartists.wordpress.com robyn blaikie collins

            because we are also often one breath away from insanely arrogant… and we really dont want to be THAT guy…

            not really. it’s really because the very nature of what we do demands an audience- but its subjective… unlike a timed race or court case, so “success” hinges purely on being liked…and that can be scary.

            • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

              agreed. never want to be that guy.

              • Mandy

                YES! THAT GUY!!! NOBODY wants to be him, yet EVERYONE knows him… it’s a terrifying thought. But I recently decided I’d rather be THAT GUY (by which I mean THAT GIRL) than THAT GUY who does nothing but sit around telling everybody else how hard their dreams will be to accomplish. So I (am trying to) stop(ped) worrying about it.

                • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

                  Yeah, you can’t define yourself by what you DON’T want to be.

  • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

    Incredible post, Jeff. I’ve run into a few of those situations lately, where some great opportunity rolls along that I’m not ‘ready’ for and I start making excuses to let them pass by. It takes a lot of intentional effort and some ‘kick-in-the-butt’ posts like this to keep a man honest.

    Thanks for the awesome piece of writing today.

    • Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Kenny. Thanks for reading and being a fan. You’re someone who doesn’t make excuses and is an inspiration to myself and others reading this.

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  • http://www.mustardseedyear.com Jason

    Great post, man. My problem is that I finished one book and basically have had to shelve it. I’m fighting that feeling of not wanting to go through all that work again and have it amount to nothing (if that makes sense.)

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks for sharing, Jason, and I’m sorry to hear that. I appreciate your giving us a look into the “other side” of this issue.

  • Dena G

    Not sure I’ve ever said “thank you” to anyone before when they stomped the heck out of my toes, but…thank you.

    I need to remember that I write for myself, that I write for the joy of writing, that I write as my “therapy”…not (necessarily) for someone else to read–I get into the habit of thinking like I’m writing for an “audience” and I get bogged down into the whole “Is this good enough for someone else to read?” mindset. Totally wrong perspective.

    Thanks for breaking some toes and helping me refocus this morning.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Any time, Dena. Thanks for the comment and for writing just to write. We need more of that these days.

  • Jo

    my, my! lately my life’s been a string of these kind of conversations- ones that leave you saying “i am my own roadblock”. ugh. what a difficult thing for any creative person to say…ahem..admit. so yeah. thanks for such an irritating post. lol!
    – stirred to action :)

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Jo. A line that I originally had in this post that I edited out was, “I am my own worst enemy.” Have you read the War of Art? That may help.

  • http://www.daleschultz.info Dale Schultz

    Hum.

    Ouch.

    Thanks, I needed that.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Dale. I’ll be gentler in the future.

  • http://renaissanceegg.wordpress.com Tom Eggebrecht

    Jeff: What a GREAT post! You hit me right where I am at right now…PLUS we have two college-aged children to whom I sent the post as soon as I read it. They are both pursuing “artistic” careers. What a great time it is for them to be in that line of work. It’s not easy, but you have provided the proper encouragement. Thanks!

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Wow, Tom. I’m honored. All the best to your kids! I hope it challenges them.

    • http://www.dearheartists.wordpress.com robyn blaikie collins

      tom…i think i might know your college age son… BEN ?! he leads worship for me in the treehouse at long hollow…

  • Jeff Boshers

    Thanks, I needed to read this.

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      You’re welcome, Jeff. Thanks for reading!

  • http://mandythompson.com mandythompson

    “the only thing holding me back is me” dangit Jeff. OUCH!

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Sorry…

  • @lindseygilstrap

    Jeff-you always challenge me right where it hurts! I truly appreciate you and am so glad to be connected!

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Lindsey. You’re a great encourager.

  • http://www.esauproject.com Julie Shreve

    Ouch. Thank you. Ouch. Thank you. Ouch. Thank you.

    “You are all that stands in the way of your dream. You have no excuse to not begin today. You are lazy and afraid.” Yes, yes and yes.

    One of my biggest fears? What happens if I succeed? Am I ready for that? What if my dreams come true and then some? Can I handle that or am I too comfortable with failing…or not even trying at that?

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      That’s good, Julie. Thanks for the comment. I had a friend who said that I was being protected from influence until I was ready for it. I am believing that without intentionally avoiding the platform that’s been given me.

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  • http://plct.blogspot.com Keturah

    You have a lot of blogs that kick my butt. [All the ones about procrastination, perfectionism, and JUST DOING IT.] After I read this I started a 3-day attempt at writing ONE stupid blog post, but I finally got it out. So, thanks for writing.
    You and Jack.
    “…what do i really know about [becoming a writer] except you’ve got to stick to it with the energy of a benny addict.” -Jack Kerouac

    • http://about.me/jeffgoins Jeff Goins

      Thanks, Keturah!

  • http://www.taraRwood.com Tara

    I have a million excuses but you nailed the two biggest ones. I’m lazy and I’m afraid. A close third is I need a cheering section and I don’t feel like I have that (I guess that falls under insecure?). I know that probably sounds dumb, but I want people who aren’t family or close friends to say, “What you have to say has value and you should totally pursue getting that out there.”

    I’ve really been struggling this week with where I’m supposed to go with whatever it is I think I’m trying to do right now. I like your posts because they keep me thinking. So thanks.

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      That does fall under insecure, and I have that same issue. Let me be that cheering section for you, Tara. You have something valuable to say. You have a voice. Use it.

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  • http://pinoydaysleeper.com/ ayan

    amen.

    just what i needed =)

  • Micah

    thanks. the timing of my reading this could not have been anymore perfect.

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    I agree I have no REAL excuse but I can still make up MANY excuses in bulk that Jedi-mind trick me into believing they are true. 

    Wrong thinking this is. Anger, hate, fear all lead to the dark side (of creativity). 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YO5HGMQPYSEUZS46MCFB2IZJGI jennifer

    Uh, yeah about my Words score! This article is so on point. The very reason I left the comforts of my home today and headed to a noisy Starbucks. At home I fight resistance of catching up on Hulu or playing Words etc. Thanks for this post!

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  • Nisha

    Wow, this was good. I needed to hear this, it was tight, but right! :-) My excuse: fear of the unknown, paralysis of analysis.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Love the honesty!

  • http://www.webvideochefs.com/about/chip Chip Dizárd

    Not carving out time. Working full time and then having an almost full time side business I get distracted. This is an archived post, but so timely.

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